Michigan lawmakers have voted to spend $450 million more a year to repair crumbling roads and bridges. A plan approved by the state House shifts money from the state's general fund to transportation and changes how the state taxes fuel at the pump to boost revenue as people buy more fuel-efficient cars and trucks.
The Michigan League for Public Policy director Karen Holcomb Merrill tells WOOD Radio not so fast --- the plan will strain resources available for other uses such as health care, higher education, public safety, preschool and other vital human services.
"Right now it is not clear where that money is going to come from. We hate to see a situation where it is an either / or. Where either we have money for education, social services and health care or we fix the roads."
Holcomb-Merril says targeting one-sixth of the use tax – paid by consumers for such items as online clothing sales, motel and hotel stays and catalog purchases -- for one specific purpose will mean that fewer dollars are available for other needs. The governor’s budget proposes an expansion of preschool for 4-year-olds and has offered an increase to the state public universities, which have been severely cut over the past decade. The House plan threatens those and other needed investments.